Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Fruitful Attribute

Some words simply sound beautiful......words like blessing, compassion and mercy. Webster defines mercy as a blessing that is an act of compassion. Within that one sentence, three words combine and define one another.

This cold, sad world would benefit from a large dose of these, don't you agree? How many tragedies might be avoided, how many lives spared, how many shattered relationships healed if mercy, blessing and compassion were extended.

Three words that are simply beautiful, but by no means simple. Sadly,this very cold, sad world is a world that is often found standing in opposition to the very things it desperately needs. We live in a self-absorbed culture with a heart-hardening attitude of "me first."

In his little letter, Jude's opening words to the church show us a better way...a way made possible because of God's grace and mercy.  Jude says "to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance." (vss. 1&2)  Jude does not have a simplistic view of the world nor did he see it through rose-colored glasses.  Reading the rest of his letter shows us that he was very aware of the harshness of a rebellious world. Jude also knew, however, that a higher way was possible.  Look at the beauty of the words he uses to describe who and what we can be; called, loved, kept.  Those words make me feel warm, secure, embraced. I am offered abundant mercy, peace and response to this gift must be a willingness to extend the same to others. 

"On the whole, my impression is that mercy bears richer fruits than any other attribute." ~Abraham Lincoln ~

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Simple, Wise Advice

Family vacations, reunions, celebrations, special times spent with loved ones.....such blessings!  Have you ever noticed that after wonderful experiences like these there is often a "let down" that comes unexpectedly, bringing a melancholy mood and a longing for more?  How frequently I have said and heard "I miss you already" at the inevitable end of a good time spent with beloved family and friends.  The following quote says it with simple wisdom.....not surprising, considering the source!

"Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."  ~ Dr. Seuss ~

Thoughts on Friendship and Trees

I am blessed with an abundance of wonderful friends.  Each one adds their own unique, priceless gem to my treasure chest of friendship. I am deeply aware of this wealth God has poured out upon me, and oh how thankful I am for it. 

In my friendships I find not only enjoyment, fun, laughter and shared pleasant experiences, but a source of encouragement, comfort, inspiration and strength.  Life, as we all know, has its share of hardships, disappointments, sorrows, stresses and troubles.  How good it is to travel the paths of good and difficult times with friends who share the burdens and the joys. 

I remember well an experience I had many years ago while accompanying a wonderful group of teenagers on a weekend youth retreat. A dear friend and I were walking along a wooded path beside a river.  As we walked and talked about the beauty of the day and all that surrounded  us, we came upon a tree that seemed to be lifting its branches upward, praising the One who had created and fashioned it while at the same time reaching down to us in,,,,well, a tree-hug!  Together, we were blessed with what we saw as a lovely illustration of creation praising the Creator and at the same time blessing us. The sight of it and the thought of what it represented filled us with joy. Would I have noticed the tree or made the spiritual connection had I been walking alone?  Maybe.  I do know, however, that sharing this experience with my friend increased the enjoyment, deepened the symbolism and created a memory that still warms our hearts.  My friend and I suffered much teasing from the young people with whom we shared the story of our tree, but it was worth it. In fact, that tree was visited many times over the years.... and not only by the two youth advisers who first found it while strolling by a river on a chilly winter day so long ago! 
"Friendship is a sheltering tree."  ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

Friday, January 11, 2013

Snow Angels

  Every now and then, I decide it's time to sort through and reduce the accumulation of papers, notes and collections of this-n-that, all of which need to be filed either as keepers or candidates for the recycling bin.  While attempting this recently, I found a copy of a wonderful little collection of thoughts written with the idea of encouraging us all to lighten up and view life with a childlike anticipation of good things.  The specific"good thing" in this writing was....SNOW!  Now, as a lifelong snow-lover, this got my attention.  I ceased sorting and tossing and sat down to read this little treasure.  The author described a time when his children were small and were playing in the snow, throwing snowballs gleefully...until a snowball hit the window and their father appeared with stern admonitions. The author/father went on to describe how, in spite of his irritation, the sight of his little boy making a snow angel with the intention of having his angel speak on behalf of his brother and himself and hopefully softening his daddy's heart, did indeed accomplish just that. He was reminded of how the storms of life can rob us of the simple trust and joy of childhood.  How do we view a snowstorm?  Dread or delight?  An annoyance, inconvenience, problem?  Or as a gift to be treasured and an opportunity for great fun? 

It is January and I am hoping a good snow day will soon be here.  I want to watch the snowflakes fall, go for a walk and listen to that amazing hush that seems to fall with the snow, watch my little grandchildren celebrate.....and perhaps make a snow angel of my own!

"I want there to be a twinge of excitement in your heart when you see snowflakes on the weather forecast.  As a grown-up, I hope you will savor the peace of a snow-covered hill, for few things blanket the earth with peace like a snowfall does.  But as a child - because I know there's one in you somewhere - I hope that when you peer out your window this winter and see snowflakes, you will throw on your coat and grab your mittens and fall into a pile of white, flailing your arms with all your might and make an angel out of your storm."    
~ T.D. Jakes ~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Stepping Out

New Year's Day!  Most folks are astounded at how fast the time has an entire year seems to have just flown past us.  Here we are, at the beginning of a brand new year, wondering what it will bring.  We hope for good health, for good times, for less hardship and heartache in the lives of those we love.  We long for a more peaceful year, for recovery and revival..... for our nation to turn back to God and to embrace the principles upon which we were founded.

Of course, no one knows what we will be looking back on twelve months from now.  But we hold on to  hope, and well we should.  In the book of Hebrews, we read that our hope is an anchor for our souls, firm and secure ( Heb. 6:19).  An anchor sounds like a really good thing to have while riding the uneasy seas of this world...but where do we find it?  The anchor we need cannot be found in some nebulous, pie-in-the-sky philosophy or in man's wisdom alone.  We who have trusted in Christ as our savior know that He is our hope and our anchor.  We can step out into this new year with confidence, courage and joy knowing we are anchored to the One who will never fail us. 

"Hope is the fuel for the journey from the known to the unknown." 
~source unknown~